The Search for Identity

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The Search for Identity in The Crucible

It is evidently true that many novels and plays, including The Crucible by Arthur Miller, spend a great deal of time exploring and developing characters journey’s to achieve a greater fulfillment of one’s identity. In The Crucible there is a strong sense of the effect of examining one’s conscience upon John Proctor and Reverend Hale’s own search for their inner values, morals and identity.

Reverend Hale slowly undergoes an examination of his beliefs and own sense of identity, through his struggle with his moral conscience where by he questions the very basis of his faith, and life ambitions. Reverend Hale, initially blinded by the over powering and oppressive sense of authority and position, is unable to see the real basis of the developing situation in Salem. His main ambition and motivation was for the intellectual gain to analyze and expose the "invisible world" of spirits and the devil for medical practices. With his energy and idealist thought concentrated on his practices within the church and social position it left little room for Hale to self reflect, develop and grow within himself. Upon arriving to Salem he felt the pride and worthiness of a specialist, whose unique knowledge in diabolism had at last been publicly called for. Through his confident attitude that provides approval "of the godly wisdom of the court", he shows that his intentions are comprised of only good nature and are perpetrated to discover and clean any signs Lucifer in Salem, not for greed or personal gain. Hale resists letting his independent thoughts and primary instincts to get in the way of his better judgement "(the court will send her (Rebecca) home"). Without realizing and analyzing his position, his presence adds to complication of the situation and plays a part in the interrogation ("you must give us all their names") of other peoples lives. It is when Hale foolishly contributes to the condemning of clearly innocent towns folk that he is provided the basis of a troubled and guilt ridden conscience that leads Hale into a quest for justice and a sense of identity.

As the play progresses, Hale is exceedingly pressured by his own moral conscience to re-analyze and examine his position and beliefs. Hale, through his frustration and sense of guilt, begins to break down the barriers that enabled him to relate with himself by questioning and re aligning his personal views and moral ideals. This is achieved through Hale’s willingness to confront his guilty conscience and try to correct the damage he may have caused upon the town’s people. Hale challenges the authority in the court ("Your honour, I cannot think you may judge the man on such evidence") as he comes to realize the injustices that are occurring in the courtroom ("private vengeance is working through this testimony"). In doing so, he challenges and questions the very basis of everything he believes in, thus he is forced to re-construct and re-align himself in order to find a sense of identity. He questions his own morality to discover if he has helped to preserve justice, or if he has coincided with the court interrogation with the town’s people’s rights and also inadvertently with his identity and integrity. His real journey begins when he seeks the truth within himself, and through his conscience and good judgement creates an overwhelming feeling of guilt ("my hands shakes yet as a wound!") that drives Hale into a new perspective of the meaning of life. His self-reformation subjects a definite change verbally, spiritually and emotionally in Hale that is initially based upon his striving for control in the heating situation and to heal the damage inflicted upon innocent victims.

It is through Hale’s struggled attempts in the courtroom with Danforth that we discover his self-discovery and reformation within himself, which begins the foundation of his beliefs and sense of identity. Hale freely expresses his beliefs and instincts...
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